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  Deathstalker II Swordplay Of The Day
Year: 1987
Director: Jim Wynorski
Stars: John Terlesky, Monique Gabrielle, John Lazar, Toni Naples, Maria Socas, Marcos Woinsky, Dee Booher, Jacques Arndt, Carina Davi, Jim Wynorski, Douglas Mortimer, Maria Luisa Carnivari, Leo Nichols, Frank Sisty, Red Sands, Dan Savio, William Feldman
Genre: Comedy, Action, Trash, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Deathstalker (John Terlesky) - that's his actual name - is a roaming hero in this barbaric land, stealing from the rich, but not bothering about the giving to the poor bit, though he does not like to see an underdog taken advantage of, as happens tonight when Reena the Seer (Monique Gabrielle) is being knocked around by some of the local guards. An expert swordsman, Deathstalker steps in and sends the attackers flying, much to Reena's admiration, so she offers to see into his future with her crystal ball, though it is this "talent" that has been getting her into nothing but trouble anyway. However, she has a secret identity, something only known to the denizens of the nearby castle...

The first Deathstalker film, not starring Terlesky (a prolific career in television direction beckoned in his future, not that Reena saw it), was very serious in tone, as befitting one of the sword and sorcery clones that peppered eighties screens large and small (but mostly small) which took their cue from John Milius' Conan the Barbarian, launching Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career as a leading man. But this sequel, while not changing an enormous amount as far as the plotting went, took a step sideways into a more humorous direction, giving its hero a line in quips and concocting a number of quasi-comical sequences and incidents instead of the usual grim-faced posturing.

To some viewers who regarded this as a discovery, this lighter tone was a welcome surprise, and it went on to be well-regarded as a cult item among those for whom this was the best in the low budget Deathstalker franchise that spawned another couple of even more impoverished sequels before the nineteen-eighties were out. The formula was swordfights, magic and nudity, as it was in many of these, but this second instalment did not invent that, as it was actually taking its cue from Albert Pyun's The Sword and the Sorcerer of a few years before; that had provided a variation on the Robert E. Howard-spawned, musclebound protagonist craze that again, picked up a cult.

It had to be said, while the Pyun piece was amusing enough, there was something fairly self-satisfied about a fantasy swordplay flick that wanted you to laugh at it, sort of a cop-out when it was recognising throughout just how cheap and cheerful it was, and under the direction of one of the cheapest and cheeriest of Hollywood for the best part of three decades, Jim Wynorski, it did have a have its cake and eat it too air that may turn off as many audiences as it attracted. If not more. If anything, this was a showcase for his then-girlfriend Monique Gabrielle, who had gained traction as one of the pin-ups of trash movies of the eighties, mainly thanks to roles in efforts such as this. Mention her name to most people and they would respond blankly, but to the right person, a faraway look would be in their eye as they recalled her.

She retired from acting to run a pornographic video service, which tells you all you need to know about her appeal, but she did not, as some may expect, spend most of this movie doffing her togs, as there were plenty of scenes where she was required to (gasp!) act, or be funny anyway, with the takeaway that she would have actually done all right for herself in comedy movies had she not had the lack of inhibitions of appearing in this kind of lowest common denominator material. Terlesky, too, evidently had some ability with a self-effacing humour, though played fairly straight by the rest of the cast, which included one-time Russ Meyer star John Lazar (unforgettable in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a drawback for him since he believed the role ruined his prospects) as the baddie our hero could clash steel with come the finale. Although this is exactly what certain B-movie fans wanted to see, for most it would be mildly amusing but monotonous otherwise, an adequate timewaster.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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